Plainfield, city (1990 pop. 46,567), Union co., NE N.J.; settled 1684 by Friends, inc. as a city 1869. Formerly a residential city in the New York metropolitan area, it has become the urban center of 10 closely allied municipalities, with diversified industries, including printing and the manufacture of chemicals, machinery, and electronic and transportation equipment. Among the several 18th-century buildings remaining are a Friends' meetinghouse (1788), the Martine house (1717), and the Nathaniel Drake House (1746), known as Washington's Headquarters. Nearby Washington Rock, overlooking the Hudson River, is reputed to be the vantage point from which George Washington watched British troop movements.
Plainfield is a City in Union County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the city population was 47,829.

Plainfield was originally formed as a township on April 5, 1847, from portions of Westfield Township, while the area was still part of Essex County. On March 19, 1857, it became part of the newly-created Union County. Plainfield was incorporated as a city by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 21, 1869, from portions of Plainfield Township, based on the results of a referendum held that same day. The city and township coexisted until March 6, 1878, when Plainfield Township was dissolved and parts absorbed by Plainfield City and the remainder becoming Fanwood Township (now known as Scotch Plains).

Plainfield is nicknamed "The Queen City".


Plainfield is located at (40.615352, -74.416070).

The city is located on the southwestern edge of Union County and is bordered by nine municipalities. Scotch Plains lies to the north and east, and Fanwood to the northeast. Bordered to the south are South Plainfield and Piscataway, and to the southwest lies Dunellen, all which are in Middlesex County. Green Brook lies to the southwest, North Plainfield lies to the north and Watchung borders to the northwest. All three of these municipalities are in Somerset County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.0 square miles (15.6 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 47,829 people, 15,137 households, and 10,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,921.7 people per square mile (3,057.4/km²). There were 16,180 housing units at an average density of 2,679.8/sq mi (1,034.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 21.45% White, 61.78% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.93% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 10.78% from other races, and 4.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.16% of the population.

There were 15,137 households out of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 24.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.49.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,683, and the median income for a family was $50,774. Males had a median income of $33,460 versus $30,408 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,052. About 12.2% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.3% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.


It was settled in 1684 by Quakers, and incorporated as a city in 1869. Formerly a bedroom suburb in the New York metropolitan area, it has become the urban center of 10 closely allied municipalities, with diversified industries, including printing and the manufacture of chemicals, clothing, electronic equipment, and vehicular parts. Among the several 18th-century buildings remaining are a Friends' meetinghouse (1788), the Martine house (1717), and the Nathaniel Drake House (1746), known as George Washington's headquarters. Nearby Washington Rock is a prominent point of the Watchung Mountains and is reputed to be the vantage point from which Washington watched British troop movements.

In music history, Plainfield is known as the birthplace of P-Funk. George Clinton founded The Parliaments while working in a barber shop in Plainfield. Parliament - Funkadelic was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Plainfield is now home to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey.

Civil disturbance

Plainfield was affected by the Plainfield riots in July 1967. This civil disturbance occurred in the wake of the larger Newark riots. One Plainfield police officer died, about fifty people were injured, and several hundred thousand dollars of property was damaged by looting and arson. The New Jersey National Guard restored order after three days of unrest.


Local government

Plainfield is governed under a Special Charter granted by the New Jersey Legislature by a mayor and a seven-member City Council, all of whom serve four-year terms in office. All council members are elected to four-terms of office. There are four wards, with one ward seat up for election each year. There are three at-large seats: one from the First and Fourth Wards; one form the Second and Third Wards; and one from the City as a whole. The three at-large seats and mayoral seat operate in a four-year cycle, with one seat up for election each year.

The Mayor of the City of Plainfield is Sharon M. Robinson-Briggs (D), whose four-year term of office ends on December 31, 2009.

Members of the Plainfield City Council are:

  • Ward 1: William Reid (D; 2010)
  • Ward 2: Cory Storch (D; 2011)
  • Ward 3: Don Davis (D; 2008)
  • Ward 4: Elliott Simmons (D; 2009)
  • Wards 1&4 at large: Linda Carter (D; 2011
  • Wards 2&3 at large: Rashid Burney (D; 2010)
  • At large: Council President Harold Gibson (D; 2008)

Federal, state and county representation

Plainfield is in the Sixth Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 22nd Legislative District.


The Plainfield Public School District serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The district is one of 31 Abbott Districts statewide. Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are ten K-5 elementary schools — Barlow (365 students), Cedarbrook (448), Clinton (340), Cook (233), Emerson (411), Evergreen (473), Jefferson (404), Stillman (260) Washington Community School (466 students, including pre-K) and Woodland (258) — both Hubbard Middle School (697) Maxson Middle School (957) for grades 6-8 and Plainfield High School (1,816) for grades 9-12.


Portions of Plainfield are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide).


Plainfield has two New Jersey Transit rail stations on the Raritan Valley Line, formerly the mainline of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The main Plainfield station is in the downtown and a second, smaller Netherwood station is in the Netherwood section, east of the downtown.

NJ Transit also provides bus service on the 113 and 114 to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan; the 59, 65 and 66 (Limited) to Newark; and local service on the 822 and 819 routes.

Newark Liberty International Airport is approximately 25 minutes away.

Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center

Solaris Health System, a nonprofit company which owns Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Plainfield, has asked for permission to close the hospital. This request has been opposed by People's Organization for Progress, an advocacy group based in Newark, New Jersey.

Plainfield Teacher's College hoax

  • Plainfield Teacher's College, a mythical institution created as a hoax by a duo of college football fans in 1941. The phony college's equally nonexistent football team had its scores carried by major newspapers including The New York Times before the hoax was discovered.

Arts and popular culture

  • The Plainfield Symphony makes its home in Plainfield. It performs concerts at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. The orchestra was founded in 1919, making it one of the oldest continuously operating orchestras in the United States.
  • In the 1985 film Brewster's Millions, Richard Pryor portrayed an aging minor league baseball pitcher whose team gets into a bar fight in Plainfield.

Famous residents and natives


External links

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